Days after being surrounded in controversy over Vande Mataram, the Kamal Nath government has stirred a hornets' nest by putting on hold payment of pension to those who were detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency. Under the scheme, which was launched by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the state in 2008, people detained during the Emergency get a monthly pension of Rs 25,000. The BJP, which was recently ousted from power in Madhya Pradesh, said it will oppose the decision.
"Great injustice has been done to the people from all sections of society who had opposed and suffered a lot during the Emergency that had been imposed to hound people and stifle the democracy. The victims were not affiliated to a particular ideology," BJP general secretary VD Sharma said, adding that "we are going to oppose the Congress government's decision tooth and nail".
Earlier, a government order dated December 29 said the officials have been directed to carry out physical verification of former MISA detainees, and until this exercise is over. It also cited auditors' objections to the scheme.
According to Congress sources, the party leaders feel that most of the beneficiaries of the pension were affiliated to the members of opposition parties as well as organisations such as the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS). However, Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja clarified that the scheme has not been scrapped and accused the BJP of raising a hue and cry for no reason. "The order does not scrap the pension scheme but only talks about a necessary exercise prior to the disbursement of money," Saluja said.